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Jesus Snubs Judas

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

The two were vying for the same position and Jesus’s stance drove a wedge between them

Simon Peter is today the most famous of Jesus’s disciples. As an apostle, he is overall only second to Paul in prominence. Yet in Jesus’s day, he did not enjoy the prestige he does today. Peter was impetuous, with a combustible temperament. Even later in the noon of his life when he was the prime mover in the founding of the church of Rome, his methods were crude and unorthodox, an echo of the exact manner in which he related to Jesus. In the Josephus corpus, where he is referred to as Simon Bar Giora, his bare-knuckle ecclesiastical approach is well-documented.


Peter easily picked up quarrels with his boss, Jesus, and hated women who were frequently in Jesus’s entourage – such as Mary Magdalene, for instance – like the plague. In the apocryphal Gospel of Phillip, he is quoted as saying, “Women are not worthy of life”.


Yet for all his eccentricities, a tender and long-suffering Jesus loved and prized him essentially for two reasons. First, he was resolute, a go-getter. Second, he was very dedicated to Jesus and was a great crusader. He was a riveting, if propagandistic public speaker. Third, and perhaps most importantly, he was Jesus’s chief bodyguard.  His major weaknesses other than those cited above was that he was fickle, operated on a very short fuse, and could be curt and confrontational. As Jesus’s principal minder, he was always armed as even the gospels indicate. His generally uncouth behavior stemmed from his being, like his brother Andrew, a uneducated simple villager.


Like Judas Iscariot, Simon Zealotes, and Theudas Barabbas, Simon Peter was a Zealot. We know this both from his affinity for arms (the sword) and his very name. He was sometimes hilariously referred to as Simon Bar-Jona (MATTHEW 16:17), wrongly translated in the doctored modern versions of the New Testament as “Simon son of John”. Bar-Jona, however, derives from the Aramaic word “Baryona”, meaning “outlaw” or “terrorist”.  Zealots were referred to as terrorists by the Romans as well as peace-loving Jews.


The gospels seem to suggest that Jesus designated Simon Peter as the bedrock of his church, the reason he gave him a new surname “Peter” or “Cephas”, both of which mean “rock”. Whilst it is true that Jesus did proclaim Peter as his evangelical heir (his designated dynastic heir was his third-born  brother Joses), the name Peter could have been conferred on the basis of his tough-man demeanour  (a “Rocky” in today’s language) or his being Jesus’s metaphorical rock, that is, his main protector as bodyguard.


Simon Peter and Andrew were originally disciples of  John the Baptist. After Jesus’s split from the Baptist, Jesus lured them to join him particularly that they were compulsive evangelists. Andrew for one may not have been as rousing a public figure as Peter but he was a dynamic soul-winner. He was always bringing people to Jesus to meet him on a one-on-one basis.

THE SONS OF “THUNDER”

Like Andrew and Peter, James and John were brothers and the youngest of the 12.  They were Hebraised Romans, having been born as illegitimate kids to Julia, Caesar Augustus’s only natural daughter, and brought up in Judea. The names John and James were either acquired or ascribed. Their real names were Aquila (John) and Niceta (James). The Aquila you read about in Acts, whose wife was Priscilla,   was actually John (he was not killed by the “Holy Spirit” through Simon Peter as the English translation  suggests: in pesher, the term “kill” sometimes means “excommunicate” or “demote”, which is what actually happened to Aquila and Priscilla).


Of the two factions in the Jesus party, John and James initially were loyal to the “Lightning” faction, the one headed by Simon  Zealotes. This is because they were his adopted sons, having been sold to his mistress Helena-Salome by Julia through a middle man slave trader when they were young. Simon Zealotes also went by the name Zebedee, meaning “My Gift”.

Hence, James and John were alternatively addressed as the “Sons of Zebedee”). Later, when Jonathan Annas (Nathaniel) became the Father (that is, the chief  Essene priest) after the demotion of Simon  Zealotes, James and John switched their allegiance to him. Nathaniel was the leader of the “Thunder” faction in the Jesus party and so James and John accordingly became the “Sons of  Thunder” after Nathaniel  designated them as his spiritual sons.


Curiously, James and John were senior to Peter and Andrew when it came to baptismal roles despite their being Gentiles. James and John were ordained “fishers”, whereas Peter and Andrew were lay “fishermen”. These terms do not carry the meaning popularly attributed to them – that of people whose trade was catching literal fish. It was all imagery, part of the Essene’s secret jargon.

“Fish’ was a term for celibate Gentiles, who when they were being baptised had to be hauled up in large nets onto a boat stationed on the Dead Sea not far from the shore. The “Fishers” were the priests who conducted the baptism, a class to which John and James belonged, and the “Fishermen “(a category in which Peter and Andrew fell)   were those who aided the baptismal candidates into the boat. When Jesus told Andrew and Peter upon “poaching” them from John the Baptist that “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men”, all he simply meant  was that he would in due course promote them to baptismal priests.


Peter, Andrew, James, and John constituted the quartet who accompanied Jesus on evangelical missions much of the time as being without executive duties like the sort the Top 6 we talked about last week had, they had plenteous time to spare. Noting that Jesus seemed to gravitate more to Peter and Andrew, Helena-Salome, the step mother of John and James, at one time set out to promote them to Jesus as his two left and right-hand pillars in a liberated Kingdom of Israel (Helena-Salome also took account of the fact that she was related to Jesus as we shall demonstrate in due course). Jesus’s response was that that recommendation had to come from the “Father” of the day, who at the time was Nathaniel.   

BERT AND PHIL
The two leading Gentiles in the Jesus party  were Bartholomew and Phillip. According to the secular Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Bartholomew’s real name was Eutychus, a name by which he appears in certain passages in the gospels. As an evangelist, however, he was known as John Marcus. It was he who sponsored the gospel according to Mark. He was very close to Simon Peter and in due course became his evangelical deputy, and not his “disciple” as some historians wrongly document.

In his first epistle, Simon Peter refers to John Marcus as “my son” (1 PETER 5:13). As we have already pointed out, “son” often meant “deputy” or “would-be successor”. John Marcus was also useful in Paul’s ministry (2 TIMOTHY 4:11) although initially the two had a tumultuous relationship.  His nickname of Bartholomew (meaning “servant of Ptolemy”) derived from the fact that he was attached to the influential Egyptian Theraputae at Qumran. Ptolemy was a Greek general who took over Egypt following the death of Alexander the Great.


Phillip was one of Jesus’s favourite disciples and a keen evangelist. In the Jesus party, he belonged to the Thunder faction and was very close to Nathaniel as a result.


So what characteristics do we see about the 12 principal assistants of Jesus Christ? They were a mixed bunch. They comprised of Zealots (Judas Iscariot, Simon Magus, Theudas Barabbas,  and Simon Peter); aristocrats (Nathaniel, Matthew, and Thomas); Gentiles (James, John, Phillip, and Mark); intellectuals (Judas Iscariot); simple village men (Simon Peter and Andrew); and Samaritans  (Simon Magus and Theudas Barabbas). The senior six, headed by Simon Zealotes, were Jesus’s associates, whereas the junior six, headed by Simon Peter, were his disciples (ministerial students) proper.

JUDAS COURTS JESUS

Now that Jesus had been baptised by John the Baptist (that is, commissioned into service as a public ministry rabbi), it was decided that he be initiated into deeper Essene secrets. The most sacred Essene secret was that of Gnosis. Gnosis was not availed to everybody just because they were Essenes: it was imparted only to a select few, those in the higher echelons.


Gnosis is the term from which the English word knowledge is derived. But Gnosis was not simply ordinary knowledge or any kind of knowledge for that matter: it was knowledge about metaphysics and the spirit world, also called the Kingdom of God. Gnosis taught that not only was man primarily spirit but he was also a god in that his spirit was  a fragment from the very essence of the real God.

Thus even when he was in this physical world, man was capable of visiting the spirit world, a phenomenon known as astral projection. The spirit  world could be accessed through  the Third  Eye, also known as the Eye of the Needle. This is the 6th chakra, located behind the forehead between the physical eyes. People who do not know the importance of the 6th Chakra “perish for lack of knowledge” (HOSEA 4:6), that is, lack of Gnosis primarily.   


The person who was to initiate Jesus into Gnosis was Judas Iscariot, who was the authority on the subject along with Simon  Zealotes. The familiar image of Judas is that of the very scum of the Earth but in his time, he was a very highly regarded and respected figure.  Judas was the Essenes’ chief scribe by virtue of  his encyclopaedic knowledge. Initiates into Gnosis were subjected to intensive instruction at Qumran (referred to as the “wilderness” in the gospels) after which a rigorous test was administered to them by Judas. It was something akin to a test one is subjected to when defending a thesis or dissertation but before a one-man panel. Since Judas conducted these tests, he was called the Satan.


The word Satan had several meanings. Depending on the context, it could mean accuser (one example of which was when Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Get behind me Satan” [MATTHEW 16:23]);  adversary;  or what we today call a devil’s advocate – that is, somebody whose duty is to broach the worst scenarios possible as food for strategic thought. Another meaning  was that of a “lie detector”. The latter was in fact the original  meaning of the style Satan (Set-En, meaning  “Truth Lord”, a role played by Enki’s great  grandson Set after he defected from the Enkite clan and joined the Enlilite clan.  Enlil, the Jehovah of the Bible, assigned him to test those who were changing loyalties from the Enkite  faction to the Enlite faction so as to ensure they were not undercover agents of the Enkites.)


Judas was called Satan because his  role was akin to that of a Truth Lord, to test initiates into Gnosis  with a view to ensure they were well-grounded in it and also that they would not be susceptible to betraying the secrets they had been taught. According to the gospels, the instruction took 40 days but that is just a symbolic manner: it in all probability took longer than that and entailed abstinence from eating at certain intervals.    


When testing Jesus, however, Judas decided to make political capital out of this closed-door opportunity. Although he was tipped to be Chancellor of the Exchequer in an independent Israel as well a Jewish-ruled world empire, Judas wasn’t content with such a position as it was effectively No. 3. He wanted the position of High Priest. In AD 29, the de facto Essene High Priest, a dynastic position, was John the Baptist and was tipped to be the universal High Priest in an independent Israel. But signs were that very soon the Baptist would be toppled and the three frontrunners for his position were Simon Zealotes, Nathaniel, and Judas himself, considering that the Baptist had no heirs.  


Since Jesus was the future King of Israel and global emperor and therefore carried enormous clout potentially, Judas decided to elicit from him mutually beneficial favours. First, he asked for endorsement for the position of Essene High Priest, that is, that of “Arch-Angel Michael”.  Judas would in return elevate Jesus from his present position as the “Sariel”, which was 3rd, to that of “Moses”, also called “Angel Gabriel”, which was 2nd. 

Second, Judas promised to appoint Jesus as the “Son” if Jesus supported him as Pope once the Baptist was ousted. Jesus had been the Son (the deputy to the Father/Pope that was the Baptist) but John the Baptist had given that position to James, his younger brother, after the split. Finally, Judas said he would rally behind Jesus as the King of Israel and emperor of the world at the expense of James, who now was a contender, if Jesus in turn supported him for the position of national High Priest. This effectively would make Jesus Judas’s No.2, just as the Iranian President is subordinate to the Ayatollah, the spiritual leader of the entire nation.


Jesus politely turned down all the three propositions by Judas. First, Nathaniel was the rightful linear successor to the Baptist as Pope (an elective position). Second, Judas did not qualify to be the Essene High Priest or national High Priest as he was not a descendent of Aaron although he was a Levite. Thirdly and most importantly, Jesus himself was aiming at combining the positions of High Priest and King as he was both a descendent of David (from his father’s side) and a descendent of Aaron (from his mother’s side).


Judas was wroth. From that point onwards, he nurtured a deep-seated  bitterness towards Jesus that  largely accounted for the  infamous betrayal four years later. The exchanges between the two are recorded in the sections of the synoptic gospels commonly referred to as the Temptation (MATTHEW 4:1-11; MARK 1:12-13; and LUKE 4:1-13). The exact nature of the conversation is encrypted and can only be deciphered using the pesher device courtesy of  its discoverer Dr Barbara Theiring.          

NEXT WEEK: HORROR AT A CASTLE

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GONE FISHING

28th March 2023

In recent years, using personal devices in working environments has become so commonplace it now has its own acronym, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device).  But as employees skip between corporate tools and personal applications on their own devices, their actions introduce a number of possible risks that should be managed and mitigated with careful consideration.  Consider these examples:

Si-lwli, a small family-run business in Wales, is arguably as niche a company as you could find, producing talking toys used to promote the Welsh language. Their potential market is small, with only some 300,000 Welsh language speakers in the world and in reality the business is really more of a hobby for the husband-and-wife team, who both still have day jobs.  Yet, despite still managing to be successful in terms of sales, the business is now fighting for survival after recently falling prey to cybercriminals. Emails between Si-Iwli and their Chinese suppliers were intercepted by hackers who altered the banking details in the correspondence, causing Si-Iwli to hand over £18,000 (around P ¼ m) to the thieves. That might not sound much to a large enterprise, but to a small or medium business it can be devastating.

Another recent SMB hacking story which appeared in the Wall Street Journal concerned Innovative Higher Ed Consulting (IHED) Inc, a small New York start-up with a handful of employees. IHED didn’t even have a website, but fraudsters were able to run stolen credit card numbers through the company’s payment system and reverse the charges to the tune of $27,000, around the same loss faced by Si-Iwli.  As the WSJ put it, the hackers completely destroyed the company, forcing its owners to fold.

And in May 2019, the city of Baltimore’s computer system was hit by a ransomware attack, with hackers using a variant called RobinHood. The hack, which has lasted more than a month, paralysed the computer system for city employees, with the hackers demanding a payment in Bitcoin to give access back to the city.

Of course, hackers target governments or business giants  but small and medium businesses are certainly not immune. In fact, 67% of SMBs reported that they had experienced a cyber attack across a period of 12 months, according to a 2018 survey carried out by security research firm Ponemon Institute. Additionally, Verizon issued a report in May 2019 that small businesses accounted for 43% of its reported data breaches.  Once seen as less vulnerable than PCs, smartphone attacks are on the rise, with movements like the Dark Caracal spyware campaign underlining the allure of mobile devices to hackers. Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission released a statement calling for greater education on mobile security, coming at a time when around 42% of all Android devices are believed to not carry the latest security updates.

This is an era when employees increasingly use their smartphones for work-related purposes so is your business doing enough to protect against data breaches on their employees’ phones? The SME Cyber Crime Survey 2018 carried out for risk management specialists AON showed that more than 80% of small businesses did not view this as a threat yet if as shown, 67% of SMBs were said to have been victims of hacking, either the stats are wrong or business owners are underestimating their vulnerability.  A 2019 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests the latter, stating that the majority of global businesses are unprepared for cyber attacks.

Consider that a workstation no longer means a desk in an office: It can be a phone in the back of a taxi or Uber; a laptop in a coffee shop, or a tablet in an airport lounge.  Wherever the device is used, employees can potentially install applications that could be harmful to your business, even from something as seemingly insignificant as clicking on an accidental download or opening a link on a phishing email.  Out of the physical workplace, your employees’ activities might not have the same protections as they would on a company-monitored PC.

Yet many businesses not only encourage their employees to work remotely, but assume working from coffee shops, bookstores, and airports can boost employees’ productivity.  Unfortunately, many remote hot spots do not provide secure Wi-Fi so if your employee is accessing their work account on unsecured public Wi-Fi,  sensitive business data could be at risk. Furthermore, even if your employee uses a company smartphone or has access to company data through a personal mobile device, there is always a chance data could be in jeopardy with a lost or stolen device, even information as basic as clients’ addresses and phone numbers.

BOYDs are also at risk from malware designed to harm and infect the host system, transmittable to smartphones when downloading malicious third-party apps.  Then there is ransomware, a type of malware used by hackers to specifically take control of a system’s data, blocking access or threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid such as the one which affected Baltimore.  Ransomware attacks are on the increase,  predicted to occur every 14 seconds, potentially costing billions of dollars per year.

Lastly there is phishing – the cyber equivalent of the metaphorical fishing exercise –  whereby  cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive data –usernames, passwords, credit card details –usually through a phoney email designed to look legitimate which directs the user to a fraudulent website or requests the data be emailed back directly. Most of us like to think we could recognize a phishing email when we see it, but these emails have become more sophisticated and can come through other forms of communication such as messaging apps.

Bottom line is to be aware of the potential problems with BOYDs and if in doubt,  consult your IT security consultants.  You can’t put the own-device genie back in the bottle but you can make data protection one of your three wishes!

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“I Propose to Diana Tonight”

28th March 2023

About five days before Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed landed in Paris, General Atiku, a certain Edward Williams was taking a walk in a woods in the Welsh town of Mountain Ash. Williams, then 73, was a psychic of some renown. He had in the past foretold assassination attempts on US President Ronald Reagan, which occurred on March 30, 1981, and Pope John Paul II, which came to pass on May 13, 1981.

As he trudged the woods, Williams  had a sudden premonition that pointed to Diana’s imminent fate as per Christopher Andersen’s book The Day Diana Died. “When the vision struck me, it was as if everything around me was obscured and replaced by shadowy figures,” Williams was later to reminisce. “In the middle was the face of Princess Diana. Her expression was sad and full of pathos. She was wearing what looked like a floral dress with a short dark cardigan. But it was vague. I went cold with fear and knew it was a sign that she was in danger.”

Williams hastily beat a retreat to his home, which he shared with his wife Mary, and related to her his presentiment, trembling like an aspen leaf as he did so. “I have never seen him so upset,” Mary recounted. “He felt he was given a sign and when he came back from his walk he was deeply shaken.”

The following day, Williams frantically sauntered into a police station to inform the police of his premonition. The officer who attended to him would have dismissed him as no more than a crackpot but he treated him seriously in view of the accuracy of his past predictions. He  took a statement and immediately passed it on to the Special Branch Investigative  Unit.

The report read as follows:

“On 27 August, at 14:12 hrs, a man by the name of Edward Williams came to Mountain Ash police station. He said he was a psychic and predicted that Princess Diana was going to die. In previous years, he has predicted that the Pope and Ronald Reagan were going to be the victims of assassination attempts. On both occasions he was proved to be correct. Mr Williams appeared to be quite normal.”

Williams, General, was spot-on as usual: four days later, the princess was no more.

Meanwhile, General,  even as Dodi and Diana were making their way to the Fayed-owned Ritz Hotel in central Paris, British newspapers were awash with headlines that suggested Diana was kind of deranged. Writes Andrew Morton in Diana in Pursuit of Love: “In The Independent Diana was described as ‘a woman with fundamentally nothing to say about anything’. She was ‘suffering from a form of arrested development’. ‘Isn’t it time she started using her head?’ asked The Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Mirror printed a special supplement entitled ‘A Story of Love’; The News of the World claimed that William had demanded that Diana should split from Dodi: ‘William can’t help it, he just doesn’t like the man.’ William was reportedly ‘horrified’ and ‘doesn’t think Mr Fayed is good for his mother’ – or was that just the press projecting their own prejudices? The upmarket Sunday Times newspaper, which had first serialised my biography of the princess, now put her in the psychiatrist’s chair for daring to be wooed by a Muslim. The pop-psychologist Oliver James put Diana ‘On the Couch’, asking why she was so ‘depressed’ and desperate for love. Other tabloids piled in with dire prognostications – about Prince Philip’s hostility to the relationship, Diana’s prospect of exile, and the social ostracism she would face if she married Dodi.”

DIANA AND DODI AT THE RITZ

Before Diana and Dodi departed the Villa Windsor sometime after 16 hrs, General, one of Dodi’s bodyguards Trevor Rees-Jones furtively asked Diana as to what the programme for the evening was. This Trevor did out of sheer desperation as Dodi had ceased and desisted from telling members of his security detail, let alone anyone else for that matter, what his onward destination was for fear that that piece of information would be passed on to the paparazzi. Diana kindly obliged Trevor though her response was terse and scarcely revealing. “Well, eventually we will be going out to a restaurant”, that was all Diana said. Without advance knowledge of exactly what restaurant that was, Trevor and his colleagues’ hands were tied: they could not do a recce on it as was standard practice for the security team of a VIP principal.  Dodi certainly, General, was being recklessly by throwing such caution to the winds.

At about 16:30, Diana and Dodi drew up at the Ritz Hotel, where they were received by acting hotel manager Claude Roulet.  The front entrance of the hotel was already crawling with paparazzi, as a result of which the couple took the precaution of using the rear entrance, where hopefully they would make their entry unperturbed and unmolested. The first thing they did when they were ensconced in the now $10,000 a night Imperial Suite was to spend some time on their mobiles and set about touching base with friends, relations, and associates.  Diana called at least two people, her clairvoyant friend Rita Rogers and her favourite journalist Richard Kay of The Daily Mail.

Rita, General,  was alarmed that Diana had proceeded to venture to Paris notwithstanding the warning she had given Dodi and herself in relation to what she had seen of him  in the crystal ball when the couple had consulted her. When quizzed as to what the hell she indeed was doing in Paris at that juncture, Diana replied that she and Dodi had simply come to do some shopping, which though partially true was not the material reason they were there. “But Diana, remember what I told Dodi,” Rita said somewhat reprovingly. Diana a bit apprehensively replied, “Yes I remember. I will be careful. I promise.” Well,  she did not live up to her promise as we shall soon unpack General.

As for Richard Kay, Diana made known to him that, “I have decided I am going to radically change my life. I am going to complete my obligations to charities and to the anti-personnel land mines cause, but in November I want to completely withdraw from formal public life.”

Once she was done with her round of calls, Diana went down to the hair saloon by the hotel swimming pool to have her hair washed and blow-dried ahead of the scheduled evening dinner.

THE “TELL ME YES” RING IS DELIVERED

Since the main object of their Paris trip was to pick up the “Tell Me Yes” engagement ring  Dodi had ordered in Monte Carlo a week earlier, Dodi decided to check on Repossi Jewellery, which was right within the Ritz prencincts, known as the Place Vendome.  It could have taken less than a minute for Dodi to get to the store on foot but he decided to use a car to outsmart the paparazzi invasion. He was driven there by Trevor Rees-Jones, with Alexander Kez Wingfield and Claude Roulet following on foot, though he entered the shop alone.

The Repossi store had closed for the holiday season but Alberto Repossi, accompanied by his wife and brother-in-law,  had decided to travel all the way from his home in Monaco  and momentarily open it for the sake of the potentially highly lucrative  Dodi transaction.  Alberto, however, disappointed Dodi as the ring he had chosen was not the one  he produced. The one he showed Dodi was pricier and perhaps more exquisite but Dodi  was adamant that he wanted the exact one he had ordered as that was what Diana herself had picked. It was a ploy  on the part of Repossi to make a real killing on the sale, his excuse to that effect being that Diana deserved a ring tha was well worthy of her social pedigree.  With Dodi having expressed disaffection, Repossi rendered his apologies and assured Dodi he would make the right ring available shortly, whereupon Dodi repaired back to the hotel to await its delivery. But Dodi  did insist nonetheless that the pricier ring be delivered too in case it appealed to Diana anyway.

Repossi delivered the two rings an hour later. They were collected by Roulet. On inspecting them, Dodi chose the very one he had seen in Monte Carlo, apparently at the insistence of Diana.  There is a possibility that Diana, who was very much aware of her public image and was not comfortable with ostentatious displays of wealth, may have deliberately shown an interest in a less expensive engagement ring. It  may have been a purely romantic as opposed to a prestigious  choice for her.

The value of the ring, which was found on a wardrobe shelf in Dodi’s apartment after the crash,  has been estimated to be between $20,000 and $250,000 as Repossi has always refused to be drawn into revealing how much Dodi paid for it. The sum, which enjoyed a 25 percent discount, was in truth paid for not by Dodi himself but by his father as was the usual practice.

Dodi was also shown Repossi’s sketches for a bracelet, a watch, and earrings which he proposed to create if Diana approved of them.

DIANA AND DODI GUSH OVER IMMINENT NUPTIALS

At about 7 pm,  Dodi and Diana left the Ritz and headed for Dodi’s apartment at a place known as the Arc de Trompe. They went there to properly tog themselves out for the scheduled evening dinner. They spent two hours at the luxurious apartment. As usual, the ubiquitous paparazzi were patiently waiting for them there.

As they lingered in the apartment, Dodi beckoned over to his butler Rene Delorm  and showed him  the engagement ring. “Dodi came into my kitchen,” Delorm relates. “He looked into the hallway to check that Diana couldn’t hear and reached into his pocket and pulled out the box … He said, ‘Rene, I’m going to propose to the princess tonight. Make sure that we have champagne on ice when we come back from dinner’.” Rene described the ring as “a spectacular diamond encrusted ring, a massive emerald surrounded by a cluster of diamonds, set on a yellow and white gold band sitting in a small light-grey velvet box”.

Just before 9 pm, Dodi called the brother of his step-father, Hassan Yassen, who also was staying at the Ritz  that night, and told him that he hoped to get married to Diana by the end of the year.

Later that same evening, both Dodi and Diana would talk to Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi’s dad, and make known to him their pre-nuptial intentions. “They called me and said we’re coming back  (to London) on Sunday (August 31) and on Monday (September 1) they are

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RAMADAN – The Blessed Month of Fasting

28th March 2023

Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims, where over one billion Muslims throughout the world fast from dawn to sunset, and pray additional prayers at night. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah, and self-control. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As you read this Muslims the world over have already begun fasting as the month of Ramadan has commenced (depending on the sighting of the new moon).

‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days, God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful”. Holy Qur’an  (2 : 185)

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are: the declaration of one’s belief in Allah’s oneness and in the message of Muhammad (PBUH); regular attendance to prayer; payment of zakaat (obligatory charity); and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

As explained in an earlier article, fasting includes total abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, refraining from obscenity, avoiding getting into arguments and including abstaining from marital relations, from sunrise to sunset. While fasting may appear to some as difficult Muslims see it as an opportunity to get closer to their Lord, a chance to develop spiritually and at the same time the act of fasting builds character, discipline and self-restraint.

Just as our cars require servicing at regular intervals, so do Muslims consider Ramadan as a month in which the body and spirit undergoes as it were a ‘full service’. This ‘service’ includes heightened spiritual awareness both the mental and physical aspects and also the body undergoing a process of detoxification and some of the organs get to ‘rest’ through fasting.

Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship but there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan.

 

The reward Allah gives for proper fasting is very generous. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) quotes Allah as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I will reward it accordingly.” We are also told by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.

Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. For example perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: “On a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: ‘I am fasting!’”

This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our physical desires. The purpose of fasting helps man to attain a high degree of sublimity, discipline and self-restraint. In other words, this standard CAN BE achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.

Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one year’s end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich one’s conscience nearer to needs of the poor. A Muslim is encouraged to be more charitable and learns to give generously for a good cause.

Fasting also has a universal or communal aspect to it. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins willingly in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. This is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn Allah’s pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature.

The month of Ramadan can aptly be described as a “season of worship.” Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, because people are more attentive to their prayers, read the Qur’an more frequently and also strive to improve on their inner and outer character. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel much happier in Ramadan because they feel themselves to be closer to their Creator.

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